Are you one of the 2.2 million? Here are OCD facts you probably didn't know

Last Updated
March 30, 2023

OCD Facts
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- Affects about 2 - 3 million American adults each year
- Men and women are equally affected by OCD
- Onset of OCD Symptoms usually occurs during adolescence or early adulthood
- Exact cause of OCD is still unknown
- Medications used to treat OCD include Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SRIs) and Tricyclic antidepressants [Clomipramine (Anafranil)]
- OCD sufferers are more likely to attempt suicide
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder is considered a chronic disorder, meaning that it lasts for years and may require ongoing treatment

OCD is like when someone has the same worrying thoughts over and over and feels they have to do certain things repeatedly to feel better. It can make everyday stuff harder for them. Many people around the world have this.

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty making decisions, and
  • Difficulty maintaining relationships [1]

Knowing more about OCD can help people deal with it better and be happier. Here are some things you should know about OCD.

6 facts about ocd infographic

OCD affects 2.2 million American adults

According to a group called the IOCDF, about 2 to 3 million adults in America have OCD every year. This means that 1 percent of the US population deals with this issue. OCD causes people to experience the same worrying thoughts. They might feel the need to do certain actions, like checking or cleaning, again and again, even if they want to stop. [2]

These worrying thoughts are "obsessions", which can be about specific things like a fear of germs. And the repeated actions they do are "compulsions".

Because of OCD, some people might find it hard to work, hang out with friends, or live a regular life. [1]

Men and women can develop OCD

Studies state that about one in 40 adults in the United States will experience OCD in their lifetime, and it affects both men and women. People with OCD often have repeating thoughts or images in their minds, known as obsessions. [3]

They also feel a strong urge to do certain actions, which are compulsions. Common examples of these compulsions are cleaning, checking things, counting, and organizing. But, the way OCD shows up can vary from person to person.[1]

It’s important to note that everyone experiences OCD differently. While some individuals may feel mild discomfort associated with their unwanted thoughts or compulsions, others may experience severe distress or impairment. [1]

The onset of OCD Symptoms usually occurs during adolescence or early adulthood

Being a teenager means going through a lot of changes. Because of these changes, teenagers are more likely to develop OCD.

It appears before the age of 25. Sometimes, kids can get OCD after catching a certain kind of throat infection. This condition has a long name: Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections. [4]

But you can think of it as a link between a throat bug and OCD. (PANDAS) In general, women tend to develop OCD earlier than men, with a peak age of onset between 4-10 years old.

There is no known cause of OCD

Despite extensive ongoing research, the exact cause of OCD is still unknown. OCD can be something that runs in families, kind of like inheriting your mom's smile. But, where you live or things you've gone through in life can also affect whether you get OCD.[5]

Some theories believe that a chemical imbalance in the brain might cause some cases of OCD, but no one has proven this yet. It's possible that there isn't a single cause but a combination of factors. Whatever the cause, remember that people with OCD are not to blame for their condition. [5]

There are effective treatments for OCD

OCD can be tricky to deal with, but there's a treatment called CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy). It helps people with OCD by letting them face what bothers them without doing their usual rituals to feel better. [6]

With CBT, people learn to question the thoughts that make them do the same things over and over. They also learn ways to relax and handle stress, which can help with feeling too worried or panicky.

Doctors can give special medicines to help people with OCD. There are two main kinds: SRIs and another one called Clomipramine, which some people also call Anafranil. They can help people feel better. SRIs are often prescribed as first-line treatment and reduce obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms. [6]

SSRIs are a type of medicine that can help with OCD. They help calm down the strong urges to do things over and over. To treat OCD, you might need to take more of this medicine than for sadness. It can take up to 3 months to see if it's working, but some people feel better faster. [7]

Table about effective treatments for OCD

People with OCD are at an increased risk of suicide

It's an unfortunate truth that people with OCD feel compelled to take their own lives more than those without the disorder.

According to a big health group, people with OCD are more likely to think about hurting themselves than other people. This is because OCD can make them feel bad, guilty, and super sad, making life seem tough.[8]

People with OCD know that feeling super down or alone isn't because they're not strong or there's something wrong with them. It's the OCD that's making them feel this way. Studies have shown that the proper treatment for OCD can reduce suicidal ideation. [8]

Therefore, seeking professional help from a qualified online therapist or psychiatrist can be lifesaving for those who struggle with suicidal thoughts.

OCD is a chronic and relapsing disorder

OCD is a problem that can last for a long time, even years. People with OCD might need help from doctors or therapists for a while to feel better. [9]

The intensity of OCD symptoms can vary from daily and weekly, with some days being worse than others. OCD can be like a roller coaster. Sometimes, the problems it causes are not so bad (this is "remission"). But other times, the problems can get strong and tough to handle (this is "exacerbation").  [9]

People with problems like OCD need help for a long time. They need ways to handle their feelings and learn tricks to deal with the tough parts of having OCD. Therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes can all be used to help reduce the intensity of OCD symptoms.  [9]

It's also good to learn the first signs that OCD is getting worse. Knowing these signs and having a plan ready can stop the problem from getting bigger and help keep things in check.

If you're confused about your mental condition, you can take this quick General Mental Health test.


OCD is a serious mental health condition that affects millions of people around the world. It can be especially challenging to live with, compared to other mental health disorders.

For people with OCD, there are ways to feel better. This includes talking to someone (therapy), taking medicines, making some life changes, and joining groups where people help each other out. If you or someone you know is living with OCD, it is important to reach out for help and take action.


How rare is OCD?

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common mental health condition that affects about 2.3% of the population. It is characterized by obsessive fear and repetitive behaviors or mental acts that can significantly interfere with daily life. Although it is not considered to be rare, it can be difficult to diagnose due to its complexity and the various forms it can take. It is important to seek professional help from a trained mental health professional if you think you may have OCD so that you can get the right treatment and support.

What are the 4 types of OCD?

OCD can be divided into four main categories:

  1. Checking
  2. Contamination/Mental Contamination
  3. Symmetry/Ordering
  4. Ruminations/Repeated Thoughts.

Each type of OCD has its own set of symptoms and behaviors that can affect a person’s daily life.


  1. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  2. Who Gets OCD? - IOCDF
  3. OCD statistics 2023 - Single Care
  4. PANS and PANDAS: Acute-Onset OCD in Children
  5. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  6. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Medication
  7. Pharmacological treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder
  8. Suicide Risk in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Exploration of Risk Factors: A Systematic Review
  9. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

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Jonathan Osaghae
Jonathan Osaghae, alias Jowell Apollo, is a medical student and proficient content writer with over four years of experience. He is versed in mental health and general medical topics and is proud to share his knowledge with the public through his articles. In his free time, he's also a big movie buff.
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